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Oh, Hey There! Would the 49ers be in the NFCCG without DeMeco Ryans?

What if Robert Saleh was still running the defense?

The more you dive into what DeMeco Ryans’ defense did to the Packers last weekend, the more amazing it becomes—holding them to 10 points—giving up around 60 total yards in the second half. It was a 49ers playoff performance for the ages, regardless of what happens this week against the Rams.

On today’s Oh, Hey There! podcast, Javier Vega and Leo Luna asked a simple question: Would the 49ers be where they are if Robert Saleh was still coordinating the defense?

“What we’re seeing schematically, I don’t think we saw that the previous four years,” Luna said, “Correct me if I’m wrong, Saleh’s defense was more of a, ‘This is what we’re going to line up as, and this is what you’re going to get.’ With DeMeco, he’s playing more of a, ‘We’re going to line up in this, but this is not essentially what you’re going to get post-snap.’ It just seems like he has more flexibility within his players and what he’s doing with his scheme. I want to be clear: I don’t mean any disrespect to Robert Saleh and what he accomplished over the four years. It’s more so - holy crap, we haven’t seen this schematically from the defense.”

No one can deny the incredible run that Ryans’ unit has been on lately. Over their last five games played, the 49ers are allowing an average of 15.6 points per game. Four out of those five contests came against playoff teams. That includes games against both number one seeds, the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, and the Rams twice.

“It’s tough because even without Bosa last year, they were sixth on defense,” Vega countered, “So it is possible because they still have a lot of playmakers. What I will say...the secondary was a little bit better last year for the 49ers. It’s two different defenses. I’m going to say I don’t know. If you give Saleh this defense, I think you get the same result. If you give DeMeco last year’s defense, you probably get the same result. Both guys are really, really good.”

Ryans has already been sought after by multiple NFL teams for their head coaching position, and there’s no guarantee he returns to coordinate the 49ers defense in 2022. Year to year changes like that are why teams absolutely have to get the job done when they have a chance to win a championship. The 49ers went to a Super Bowl in 2019 and then lost 10 games the following year with roughly the same team. It happens. With another chance to get back to the Super Bowl coming on Sunday, the 49ers need to win if they’re going to maximize talents on the coaching staff like DeMeco Ryans.

Other topics in today’s episode

  • Why the 49ers will be able to move the ball against the Rams
  • What happens to Jimmy Garoppolo if the 49ers make the Super Bowl?
  • One player Leo wants to see more of this week (and no, it’s not Trey Lance)
  • Score predictions